Report: Russian Mafia Aids Al-Qaida : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Friday, Sep. 28, 2001. Page 3

Report: Russian Mafia Aids Al-Qaida

The Moscow Times

U.S. intelligence agencies have uncovered information that Russian criminal groups have been supplying Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist network with components for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, The Washington Times reported.

The Foreign Ministry called the report an attempt to undermine relations between the U.S. and Russia at a time of increased cooperation.

The Washington Times, citing U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity, reported Wednesday that bin Laden is believed by U.S. intelligence to have a secret nuclear weapons laboratory inside Afghanistan. This is believed to be one of the sites sought for U.S. military strikes, the newspaper said.

There is no hard evidence that bin Laden or his followers have actually produced chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. But bin Laden has worked with Russian mafia groups in obtaining components for weapons of mass destruction, according to officials familiar with the intelligence reports.

The U.S. State Department's latest report on international terrorism says that al-Qaida "continued" to seek chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear capabilities, the newspaper said. Intelligence officials say al-Qaida probably is trying to produce the nerve agent Sarin or biological weapons made up of anthrax spores.

A former State Department counterterrorism official, Larry Johnson, said the contacts between the mafia and bin Laden could be related to drug trafficking and such cooperation would not be surprising, the newspaper said.

The Foreign Ministry said Thursday that the report raises a question: "Why should such information be splashed out on newspaper pages instead of discussing it through the channels existing between our countries, including confidential ones?"

"One may get the impression that some in the United States oppose the positive tendency in Russian-American relations that has made itself felt recently," the ministry said in a statement carried by Interfax.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 29, 2001

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